Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The company of women

I like men—a lot. Not to be trite, but some of my best friends are men. And, yes, in the day I’ve loved some of them. But there’s something about the company of women. Something indefinably comforting. I’m not talking about gossip sessions or those heart-to-heart talks where you confide your deepest secrets and all of your problems to your best friend. No, just ordinary talk.

The Book Ladies met for breakfast this morning. I found myself with women talking about travel, books, and writing. To my right was a preservationist and librarian, and beyond her a bookseller who still works in semi-retirement at Barnes & Noble. A retired teacher and an author sat across the table.

One woman had recently been to Iceland, and someone else piped up that she’d been there years ago and longed to go back. The one who was just in Iceland is going to Australia soon—it will be spring there. The teacher just returned from Dublin. I’ve taken some memorable trips in my life—Scotland comes first to mind—but I’m pretty much an armchair traveler, and I enjoy the detailed accounts these ladies send home.

There was talk about writing and digitizing books and then a writer who has suddenly “broken out,” the phrase for one who has just found success and recognition for her books—broken out of the pack, as it were. One of this writer’s books apparently has to do with the torture of women. We all frowned—we won’t be reading that.

All this while enjoying the kind of breakfast I don’t often allow myself—egg, toast, hash browns. It’s a great way to start the day. One woman wrote me that she was unable to be there this morning but looked forward to talking to me next time about her recent re-visit to downtown Chicago. I have a hankering to return to Chicago and visit the new writers’ museum.

Came home, wrote my thousand words for the day, and spent the rest of the day culling recipes. I have always had what I called an appalling collection because whenever a recipe came near catching my fancy I clipped it and put it in a drawer which eventually overflowed. I went through it once before the move to the cottage, but I demonstrated to myself today that I kept a lot of recipes I’d never cook.

I discarded a recipe for spaghetti for twenty-five. My days of feeding such a crowd are over. I discarded recipes that called for full ovens, though I discovered last night that my toaster oven will easily accommodate two individual casserole dishes. But that’s a far cry from a standing rib roast. Others went in the recycle bin because they just didn’t suit my taste today or because I now cook better versions, but I kept some for sentimental reasons. A few in childish handwriting—Jamie carefully wrote out a recipe for a small chicken loaf, and Megan copied directions for Play-doh. There was the recipe a friend gave me for chicken enchiladas when I barely knew what an enchilada was—mushroom and cream of celery soups. Not quite authentic.

I pulled some to use soon, particularly that I thought Jacob and/or Christian would enjoy—red beans and ground beef, a sausage and cheese casserole, and others. I’ve said it before, but there are just too many good things out there to cook. Life is a feast.

Cooking and friends, the things that keep us grounded in the present and enable us to go about our lives while President Trump and Kim whoever-he-is rattle their sabers. A crazy world.

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